Allied Bakeries this week relaunched its Kingsmill Everyday bread range in new packaging and renamed three lines, in a bid to increase impact on consumers.The “simplified” packaging has clearer branding and adopts the Kingsmill ‘Fresh from the Bakery’ seal, first introduced on Kingsmill Gold in November 2005. Allied has also renamed Kingsmill Sandwich as Kingsmill Square and Kings-mill Soft White as Kingsmill Round Top. The Kingsmill Wholemeal and White product becomes Kingsmill Wholegrain and White. The name changes will make it easier for the consumer to understand each product’s attributes, according to Allied. In the case of Kingsmill Square and Kingsmill Round Top, this is the shape of the loaf rather than the usage occasion, it says. For Kingsmill Wholegrain and White, the unique selling point is that it is the only white bread to use the whole of the grain (where others only use part of the grain), it said.The new look will be applied across the portfolio, including Tasty Wholemeal and Toastie. New packaging will also signpost slice thickness – one of the key elements in the consumer deci-sion process, according to Allied.Kingsmill is being supported by £12 million marketing spend over the next 12 months, including a £7m advertising campaign to drive awareness and trial of the range. Kingsmill Wholegrain and White will kick off the 2006 TV campaign in January, followed by trial and loyalty drives. Lawrence Trist, commercial development leader at Allied Bakeries, said: “The re-launch of Kingsmill’s Everyday range is designed to ensure that consumers recognise the quality of our products and come back again and again to Kingsmill.”
Some 300 workers at the Jacobs Biscuits plant in Dublin have voted in favour of a survival plan that will mean significant changes in work practices after an ultimatum from management, writes Hugh Oram.The three unions at the plant – Siptu, the ATGWU and the Bakers, Food & Allied Workers – had urged the Jacob’s workers to accept the changes recommended by unions, after lengthy negotiations at the Labour Relations Commission. But in the face of advice from their unions, the workers had turned down the proposals.Management of the plant then said the factory would close within the next few weeks, with the loss of all jobs. Michael Carey, chief executive of the Jacob Fruitfield group, said the workers’ decision meant the company could no longer manufacture or distribute products from the factory.Redundancy for all workers was a prospect that brought intense discussions between man-agement and unions. Govern-ment ministers also intervened.The plan was put to the ballot again on March 3 and accepted by 202 votes to 36. Mr Carey said that the work practice changes to be implemented would ensure that biscuit manufacturing continues at the plant and that there is every hope the business can grow. “I would like to publicly thank the employees for the way in which they have reached this decision,” he added.Jacobs is the only biscuit manufacturing plant in Ireland and has about 35% of the Irish biscuit market. It was bought from Danone by Jacob Fruit-field in August, 2004.
Northern Foods has dismissed press reports it is planning to sell its £300 million turnover bakery division as “pure speculation”. A report in the Sunday Times on April 23 said Northern Foods’ board would discuss a potential sale of the division at a meeting this week. The division includes premium cake and pastry supplier Park Cakes, Fox’s biscuits, Christmas puddings company Matthew Walker and the Smiths flour milling business.In March, Northern Foods announced a strategic review, saying its bakery and pastry divisions had been seriously hit in the early weeks of 2006 (British Baker, March 17, pg 4). Biscuit sales were down 12% year-on-year and pastry sales down 11% in January and February, it said.The results of the review will be revealed at the company’s AGM on May 31.
Kluman & Balter (Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire) offers pie fillings ranging from apricot, black cherry, blackcurrant, fruits of the forest, lemon, and raspberry through to red cherry, strawberry and Bramley apple. Exotic fillings on offer include mango, rum and raisin, passion fruit and tropical. And, if a really fruity pie is the order of the day, then the firm also stocks apple, apricot, banana, blueberry, caramel, orange, strawberry fruit pieces as well as tinned fruit, jams, jellies and glazes.
Alex Salmond has always been a passionate, hard working, ’constituent’ MP. I call him that because he really has stood up and fought hard for his own constituents on every issue, from biscuit factory closures to community health measures.Now he has his eyes on the much bigger goal – Independence for Scotland. And he’s come up with a real vote-winning idea: “Let Scotland’s high streets flourish” (see pg 4).In this topical, vote-winning suggestion, the table-thumping MP wants to abolish business rates for 120,000 small firms and give rates relief on a sliding scale to others. I am with him so far, and much of what he says must be music to the ears of other UK high street bakers. But I have always been interested in current affairs and learned, a long time ago, to ask the same question posed by Kirk Hunter of the SAMB: “Who pays?”There is no such thing as a free subsidy, free grant, free anything. So while I totally agree with his sentiments that we need a return to community, and we want to see high streets flourish instead of seeing too many boarded-up shops and businesses, I’d still like an answer to that question.While on the craft sector, Doughnut Week is looming fast (pg 9). It is not only a fantastic opportunity to raise much-needed money for a nationwide charity, but a chance to publicise your business, sell more doughnuts and, importantly, increase profits alongside your profile. So please do sign up fast.Also, please enter the Baking Industry Awards. Many have requested more time to enter, so the deadline has been extended to May 18. Just call Nicola Chesson on 01293 867629 or download a form from our website, [http://www.bakeryawards.co.uk].In the plant sector, we are monitoring Kingsmill’s £14 million mega re-launch which its owner, Allied Bakeries, says has resulted in a “marked increase in sales” (pg 4). Early marketing data seems to confirm the fact, and both Sainsbury’s and our city analysts concur that it’s gone well.
Warburtons and the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) have reached a pay agreement following the threat of strike action.The union, which called off planned strike action before Christmas over what it saw as a low pay offer, confirmed on 11 January that an agreement had been reached.No pay figure was available but Warburtons described it as “an extremely competitive offer in the context of the food industry” and pronounced themselves pleased with the resolution of the dispute.
This year’s winner of the British Baker Award for Special Achievement, John Slattery, is in good company, with names such as baker Charles Geary, cereals scientist Stan Cauvain and bakery tutor Jean Grieves.John Slattery, too, stands in a class of his own. A renowned patissier, confectioner and son of highly popular Mancunian baker Bernard Slattery and wife Margaret, John was first handed a piece of pastry and a rolling pin at the age of seven. His father made wedding cakes at home to supplement his income and then bought his own bakery when John was 14. John immediately volunteered to work Saturdays and after school.At age 16, he chose to attend Salford College of Technology and, during three years study, won the coveted Renshaw Cup, as well as the Top Student award.Starting work in his father’s bakery he took over the business and confectionery side.In 1988, his younger sister Ann, with her husband Steve, joined the business. John had married Marilyn so with three families to support and small businesses struggling against the popularity of supermarkets, he decided to set up his own company in Whitefields, Manchester. It was to be a patisserie with celebration cakes, handmade chocolates and fancies so he could practise the arts he truly loved.Slattery’s soon became affectionately known as ’that wicked shop in Whitefields’ – and grew fast. In just two years, he was already employing eight people. It was time to move to bigger premises. This time the tables and chairs used for customers wanting to talk about their fantasy wedding cakes grew into a coffee shop with 12 seats, then 24, then 40, then 60!John’s bespoke wedding cake creations were becoming local legends. He was also tutoring students, demonstrating at exhibitions and giving up time to judge competitions nationwide. He often combined his skills as a master chocolatier and celebration cake-maker to create the most incredible cakes. Sales went up and staff grew to 30, including daughters Kate and Laura, who had joined the business.Shared informationEleven years ago John was invited to become a member of the prestigious British Confectioners’ Association – “a wonderful group where we share information”.He was already a member of the British Richemont Club, begun in Manchester 52 years ago, and affiliated to the Swiss-based International Richemont Club of top patissiers and chocolatiers worldwide. John was invited to become British president.But business-wise, in 2003, Slattery’s needed to move again and, this time, it was a massive gamble. Acquiring a large, utterly derelict Victorian pub, John’s vision was to turn it into a working patisserie – and much more.In 2004, it became a world-class patisserie, a renowned teaching school, a dining room, conference room and wedding venue. The Slattery School now attracts students – both amateur and professionals – from Great Britain and overseas.Slattery Pattissier and Chocolatier has become a ’destination’. Customers call in for breakfast or business meetings, to choose the cake for the most important day of their lives, or that of a loved one. They may buy a copy of his book on chocolate cakes for weddings and celebrations, or just ingredients for their cakes – also available on the web.Call in at Christmas, Valentine’s or Easter and it’s impossible to leave empty-handed. Manchester United footballer Wayne Rooney and wife Colleen are among celebrities who chose Slattery’s for their elaborate wedding cake.But he hasn’t just worked for his own business. Importantly, John has also mentored and helped other businesses. And he considers it a compliment when a staff member leaves, inspired to start up on their own. He pays tribute to wife Marilyn: “It’s a very good partnership; I couldn’t do it without her. She looks after things such as wages and banking; I only need to look after my work here.”Daughter Kate works in the bakery and the other daughter Laura makes the most of her business degree in the company. Meanwhile Ann, and Steve, provide the breads and savouries.At the end of September 2008, John will co-host a three-day gala meeting of the International Richemont Club, when over 60 top confectioners worldwide will converge on Manchester’s top bakeries, including Slattery’s, to enjoy demonstrations.As well as mentoring other businesses, demonstrating at exhibitions and judging competitions, John Slattery has set up a business that is truly inspirational.Asked what gives him the most job satisfaction, he reflects: “I have implicit trust that I’m here on this earth doing what I’m meant to be doing.” There are many who would agree.Sylvia Macdonald
Equipment and products supplier, Country Choice is promoting its customer-friendly serve-over format as part of its Bake&Bite Café concept.Part of the Brakes group, Country Choice’s food-to-go concept enables retailers to prepare products, such as sandwiches and baguettes, in full view of the customer.It is aiming to capitalise on the trend for customer-facing serve-overs, which it says tend to be especially popular with female customers.The format, which used to be called ‘shop within a shop’, can be put together off-site in around four days. Country Choice supplies everything except the freezer. The company was also highlighting its newest creation – its Boston’s coffee and American-style donut offering. The bean-to-cup coffee machines are available in a range of different sizes to suit different outlets. They use freshly ground Arabica beans and fresh milk.The yeast-raised ‘donut’ range includes: five filled and decorated ball donuts, three decorated ring donuts and one glazed ring donut. They can be defrosted in two hours and have a shelf-life of 48 hours from defrost.
Vanilla beans are long pods of a tropical orchid plant, which is native to Mexico but is also grown, among other places, in the Indian Ocean islands of Madagascar, Comoros and Réunion.The pods can be cut in half lengthways and the black sticky seeds scraped out on the tip of a knife. These seeds can be added to other ingredients to make biscuits, cakes, custard tarts and other sweet pastry deserts. This is an expensive way to use vanilla, even though the pods can be used a few times before finally being put into containers of sugar to impart the last of their flavour. More commonly, vanilla extract is used. It takes six months to obtain pure vanilla extract from the beans and the extract is 35% alcohol by volume. The flavour is far superior to vanilla essence or flavouring which is derived from phenol.Why not make a berry and almond traybake, adding vanilla extract to a sponge mixture and spreading two-thirds into the base of a tin. Sprinkle the berries – for example, raspberries or blackberries – over the top and cover with more sponge mixture, then scatter flaked almonds on top. Once baked, cover with glâcé icing that has had a little vanilla extract added.Fiona Burrell, co-author of Leiths Baking Bible, from Leiths School of Food and Wine
Poppy seeds are cultivated from Papaver Somniferum and are used to flavour breads, rolls, cakes and pastries in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cookery. They have a nutty aroma and taste, particularly when roasted. Poppy seeds can be added to many recipes, either as an integral part of the recipe or as a garnish that adds colour and flavour, as, for example, in a poppy seed plait, which has the poppy seeds sprinkled on the bread after proving and glazing. Their flavour marries well with citrus, so try Lemon and Poppy Seed Muffins which are finished with a lemon syrup glaze when they are hot out of the oven or make an Orange and Poppy Seed Cake, adding poppy seeds and orange zest to a sponge mix, then soaking with an orange syrup once cooked.Why not make biscotti, using a mix of hazelnuts, almonds and poppy seeds? Or use ground almonds and poppy seeds to make an unusual shortbread or biscuits. If you want to add them to savoury recipes, try adding them to a cheese scone recipe, make savoury muffins adding spiced onions and poppy seeds or simply scatter them over cheese biscuits made with blue cheese.Fiona Burrell, co-author of Leiths Baking Bible, from the Leiths School of Food and Wine